When I heard about the little girl whose microphone stopped working as she was singing “The Star Spangled Banner” before an ice hockey match in Virginia, I must admit I got a little choked up.
I watched (via the Internet) the crowd all find their voices to help the embarrassed 8-year-old finish singing the national anthem in stirring style.
This report really emphasizes to me the different attitudes between the U.S. and the U.K. toward our different national anthems. It was not always this way. When I was a very young girl in the 1970s, I remember standing up to sing or listen to “God Save The Queen,” the British anthem, before cultural and sporting events. I also remember – on the rare occasions I was not asleep – one of our three TV stations played the national anthem before TV service was shut down for the night at around 11 p.m. (imagine that today).
I began to wonder if Great Britain’s focus on an individual, the queen, rather than a nation has made the British drastically reduce the playing of the national anthem?
While the queen does enjoy tremendous respect amongst most people, there are some who do not support the idea of a monarchy in the 21st century. Even the rest of us have been less than impressed over the last 20 years by the behavior of certain members of the British Royal family.
I looked at the words of “The Star Spangled Banner” and was struck by how they encapsulate the hard-won battles fought by America for its very existence, and how it respects the struggle for independence and of course your wonderful flag – the stars and stripes.
However, I only recently learned that this song was chosen as your official national anthem in 1931; apparently “Hail, Columbia” and “My Country, Tis of Thee” were officially used before then.
The most emotional memory I have of hearing “The Star Spangled Banner” is when, on Sept. 12, 2001, the Queen’s Band of the Coldstream Guards at Buckingham Palace in London played it as an act of solidarity for our ally, America, the day after 9/11.
In my opinion, Americans are far and away more patriotic than the vast majority of British people these days. Obviously there are exceptions, but in general much of the U.K. population has adopted an ironic and complaining tone about their own country. This is a great contrast to most Americans who, despite any differences in politics, are almost all universally proud to be American citizens.
Personally, I think it is wonderful that every American child is taught the Pledge of Allegiance along with their ABCs, and I love to see the American flag flying proud on mailboxes and from buildings. In fact I am having a love affair with the USA – my heart swells when I see a large stars and stripes flying, such as the one on Hwy. 17. And I am totally sold on the idea of “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
God bless America!
Francis was born and raised in London, England, and moved to Richmond Hill in 2009 with her American husband, Carl, and their dogs. She can be contacted at email@example.com or www.lesleyfrancispr.com.